SGF Board of Education votes to accept tax case settlement between Town of Moreau and South Glens Falls paper company

December 20, 2017

At the Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, SGF Board of Education meeting, the board made the difficult decision to accept a tax settlement, made between the Moreau Town Council and SCA Americas, which will negatively affect school district taxes and local revenue for years to come.

That settlement, which the Moreau Town Council had approved with a 3-2 vote on Nov. 28, 2017, without input from the school district, will result in the paper company SCA Americas paying thousands of dollars less in property and school taxes than anticipated from the current year through 2022.

“Our hands were essentially tied,” said Superintendent of Schools Michael Patton, Ed.D. “The Town of Moreau spent more than two years in negotiations with SCA and believed, based on the professional advice from their appraisers, that the assessed values on the SCA properties could not be sustained. The Town was also worried about the significant risk and exposure that both the Village and school district could be held to in paying refunds.

“The school district is understandably concerned that the Town never had a current, written appraisal completed on the SCA property prior to agreeing to this settlement,” Patton added. “As a result, the school district will be losing nearly $879,000 in anticipated revenue over the next five years.”

Patton said the board of education did not have enough information about the change in assessment to move ahead and defend the case on its own, even though School District Attorney Wayne Judge requested information from the Town’s Assessor about the significant reduction in assessment. Attorney Judge was never provided with any details about how the assessment was determined.

At the advice of the school district attorney, the board of education voted 7-1 to accept the agreement that was approved by the town. Kevin Ostrander voted “no” and Nelson Charon was absent. The school district attorney advised that the district did not have a viable alternative to accepting the agreement within the mandated time period, especially in light of the Town’s vote and lack of a written appraisal.

Based on the town’s agreement, the property assessment for SCA Americas, located on River Street in South Glens Falls, will decrease from approximately $25.6 million to $14 million in 2022. This chart shows how the school district’s tax revenue from SCA Americas will be affected.

School District
Tax Rate
School
Tax Refund
Anticipated School
Tax Loss of Revenue
Previous Assessment Information
2015 $25,590,000 $15.2210
2016 $25,590,000 $15.2550
Renegotiated Assessment Information
2017 $20,000,000 $15.2780* $85,404
2018 $17,000,000 $15.2780 $131,238
2019 $16,000,000 $15.2780 $146,516
2020 $15,000,000 $15.2780 $161,794
2021 $14,000,000 $15.2780 $177,072
2022 $14,000,000 $15.2780 $177,072
Totals
$85,404 $793,692
Total Projected Revenue Loss Through 2022
$879,096

(*Tax rate for the 2017-18 school year.)

“We want to make it clear to our taxpayers that this dramatic change in assessment will have a significant negative impact on our school district revenue. With the anticipated loss of $879,000 in revenue over the next five years, the school district will be forced to make difficult decisions that will impact programs and services that help support our children,” Patton said.

Moving forward, district officials are proposing that the school district and the Town of Moreau work more cooperatively to settle large-scale assessment disputes like the SCA case. The district has formally proposed to the town that it has more meaningful input into the selection of the appraiser, equal access to appraiser’s data and information, and input into any settlement agreement that will have significant tax impact within the Town of Moreau.

Category: District News